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Promotion of your own translations
Thread poster: Arnaud HERVE

Arnaud HERVE  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:34
English to French
+ ...
Oct 1, 2008

Hi, supposing I know an author from the 19th century in source language, that I feel unfairly neglected in target language's country : what is the best solution to become the main translator for that author, have my translations published and commercially promoted?

I suppose I have a wide range of solutions: create my own publishing company, convince an already existing publisher, publish alone online, etc.

Personally, in the three source languages I can translate from, I know authors who are really important, and almost not translated in my target language. Those are not only fiction writers, but also philosophers, historians...

On the other hand, since they deserve top level, slow and focused translation, I could not translate their sometimes voluminous books without being full-time paid for that. I cannot, for example, become part-time paid for three months while translating, without any guarantee of the book selling well after that...


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sivtufte  Identity Verified
Norway
Local time: 17:34
English to Norwegian (Bokmal)
+ ...
You might... Oct 1, 2008

- Find a publisher and present parts of the text already translated into your target language. This means you'd probably need some deal with the author, that states; should it come to being published - your work should be peferred.

Publishers just might find it convienient to get the full package...

On the other hand, if it's ex. historical, there are funds to cover parts of/all costs publishing. Check all funds, organisations, smaller publishers etc. Books doesn't nessesarily have to be published in just traditional paper issues either... You've got internet, audio books, articles in magazines, TV hosting authors (raises sales numbers efficiently) - endless possibilities.

Where I work we're always encoruaged to be open minded - once you think outside the box, things that have appeared hidden reveal themselves in surprising yet obvious ways

A challenge is what you've got. Enjoy it


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 16:34
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Dealing with the dead Oct 1, 2008

sivtufte wrote:
- Find a publisher and present parts of the text already translated into your target language. This means you'd probably need some deal with the author, that states; should it come to being published - your work should be peferred.


Since he was referring to an author from the 19th century, making the deal with the author could be a particular challenge unless he knows a really good medium


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Arnaud HERVE  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:34
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Same thread Oct 1, 2008

Translating living authors interests me too.

As a matter of fact, I know one German author, well-known in Germany, who has written a book about a French subject, and is not translated in France.

Considering the large numbers of readers in both countries, I am somewhat puzzled.


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:34
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Contacting the heirs and presenting them a sample Oct 2, 2008

sivtufte wrote:
- Find a publisher and present parts of the text already translated into your target language. This means you'd probably need some deal with the author, that states; should it come to being published - your work should be peferred.


I would try to find the current heirs of the author and show them a sample of the kind of work you feel has to be done. Maybe a comparative summary in paper showing where major mistakes were made and why a new translation makes sense. You will need their consent for your project or to publish any translation, as far as I know.


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Felipe Gútiez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:34
Member (2002)
German to Spanish
+ ...
Please, where are you working? Oct 2, 2008

sivtufte wrote:


Where I work we're always encoruaged to be open minded - once you think outside the box, things that have appeared hidden reveal themselves in surprising yet obvious ways

A challenge is what you've got. Enjoy it



Tell me, please, please!!!!!!!!!!!


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Felipe Gútiez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:34
Member (2002)
German to Spanish
+ ...
Excellent question Arnaud Oct 2, 2008

Arnaud HERVE wrote:

Hi, supposing I know an author from the 19th century in source language, that I feel unfairly neglected in target language's country : what is the best solution to become the main translator for that author, have my translations published and commercially promoted?

I suppose I have a wide range of solutions: create my own publishing company, convince an already existing publisher, publish alone online, etc.

Personally, in the three source languages I can translate from, I know authors who are really important, and almost not translated in my target language. Those are not only fiction writers, but also philosophers, historians...

On the other hand, since they deserve top level, slow and focused translation, I could not translate their sometimes voluminous books without being full-time paid for that. I cannot, for example, become part-time paid for three months while translating, without any guarantee of the book selling well after that...


I propose you an idea and I can call myself because I know some people there personally (at least I met them once).
You can call Ms. Manson from the Cultural Heritage unit of the Directorate General of Information Society of the European Commission and try to convince to get fonds for this and other projects.

Ms Patricia MANSON
Cultural Heritage and Technology Enhanced Learning
INFSO E 3
Tel. Luxembourg +(352) 430133261
Tel. Brussels-Switchboard +(32) 2 2991111

There is also Traduwiki and other projects similar in Wikipedia.


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 16:34
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Public domain Oct 2, 2008

Tomás Cano Binder wrote:
I would try to find the current heirs of the author and show them a sample of the kind of work you feel has to be done. Maybe a comparative summary in paper showing where major mistakes were made and why a new translation makes sense. You will need their consent for your project or to publish any translation, as far as I know.


I don't think so. Copyright law has changed many times during my lifetime (works used to enter the public domain while long-lived authors were still around), but I think it's safe to say that something written well over a hundred years ago where the author has been dead for a while is in the public domain. You may have to take legal advice if the situation is unclear. Wikipedia had the following to say on the subject:


"In the United States, all books and other works published before 1923 have expired copyrights and are in the public domain. In addition, works published before 1964 that did not have their copyrights renewed 28 years after first publication year also are in the public domain, except that books originally published outside the US by non-Americans are exempt from this requirement, if they are still under copyright in their home country (see How Can I Tell Whether a Copyright Was Renewed for more details).

But if the intended exploitation of the work includes publication (or distribution of derivative work, such as a film based on a book protected by copyright) outside the U.S., the terms of copyright around the world must be considered. If the author has been dead more than 70 years, the work is in the public domain in most, but not all, countries. Some works are covered by copyright in Spain for 80 years after the author's death."


You would, of course, hold the copyright for your translation.


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Kathryn Litherland  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:34
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
grim market for literary translations Oct 2, 2008

I could not translate their sometimes voluminous books without being full-time paid for that. I cannot, for example, become part-time paid for three months while translating, without any guarantee of the book selling well after that....


And therein lies the problem of the matter...the market for literary and "lettered" translations (such as significant works of history or philosophy) is not very large or lucrative (no matter how important the figure may be). In other words, it costs more to put out a work of 19th century literature or history or philosophy in translation, and yet the market will be smaller than that for a "local" figure from the same time period.

There are grants and subventions out there that are awarded to authors or publishing houses to help cover the costs of translating significant works of literature. I don't know if there are similar programs that help fund the independent translator directly for the sorts of things you're talking about.

The other thing that I would think about is the fact that it seems--at least to me--that translations of significant "older" works are almost always not just "translated" but supplied with an translators/editors introduction that help the modern reader in a foreign context situation the work of literature within a wider cultural/historical/national context. I think a lot of these sorts of translations are actually produced by academics/scholars while on sabbatical and with the help of grants.

So if you're not qualified to provide that sort of an introduction, you might consider identifying French-speaking scholars in who are most active in studying this particular figure and opening up a discussion on the possibilities of a translation and getting a sense for whether it's a viable possibility.

The thing that you'll have to be prepared to answer convincingly, no matter how you go about it, is (a) why anyone should be willing to invest money in translating a work by this particular author; and (b) why you are qualified to be the one to do it.


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:34
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
An academic approach Nov 11, 2008

Hi Arnaud,

I'm a bit late, and I don't have much experience on the subject, but I have known several others to pursue an academic angle.

Arnaud HERVE wrote:

Hi, supposing I know an author from the 19th century in source language, that I feel unfairly neglected in target language's country : what is the best solution to become the main translator for that author, have my translations published and commercially promoted?


It's not exactly a commercial venture in the bestseller sense, but if the author is significant, it may be worth, for example, becoming an authority on his work and getting an angle as to his concerns in writing particular books. The translation can thus have a retrospective value as a glossed document in his evolution, and may even come to be considered an authoritative version from broad and/or specific perspectives. Such a book would always enjoy a certain promotion from the sponsoring university, which may also extend to other academic institutions.

This strikes me as the most salient approach to dead authors, who, if they are recognised as significant at this stage, are not likely to depreciate (which earlier translations of their works might do). Authoritative versions have a small but constant market, and authors like Nobel Prize winners will always have an audience. I know someone who made a name with Juan Ramón Jiménez, but as Kathryn mentioned, she had to produce solid credentials.

On the other hand, since they deserve top level, slow and focused translation, I could not translate their sometimes voluminous books without being full-time paid for that. I cannot, for example, become part-time paid for three months while translating, without any guarantee of the book selling well after that...


Many people would agree with you regarding many authors. For that matter, countries and institutions may be interested in specific projects. Publishing houses attached to universities, for instance, may take an active interest and take advantage of national programs to promote the dissemination of the literature and thought of the country in question. It's not by far lucrative funding, but can give one a good start.

Depending on the authors you are interested in, you might try reviewing some of the grant programs announced under the Professional Development forum. Some, like the NEA, are given to individuals and require residence in the granting country (the US), but for many others, a contract and an application from a bona-fide publisher would suffice (of these grant types, Goethe-Institut, Canada Council for the Arts & CNL come to mind. I understand the Humboldt University in Germany does something similar for the sciences).

Sponsors can also get interested for the most disparate reasons. The local government of Majorca, for instance, has long held George Sand's "Winter in Majorca" of interest in its tourism promotion efforts.


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